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Parkland experts urge revelers to have a plan this New Year’s

Parkland experts urge revelers to have a plan this New Year’s

Ring in 2024 in an accident-free, safe way

As the clock ticks down on 2023 and partygoers gather to ring in a new year, healthcare and law enforcement experts at Parkland Health advise revelers to have a plan before the festivities begin.

On average, driving accidents rise during the holidays, so it is crucial to have a safe ride on a night when so many people are out. Know your options in advance and decide whether you will take public transportation, use a ridesharing service or carpool with your friends.

“This time of the year there are multiple factors that come into play when you’re out on the highways,” said Courtney Edwards, DNP, MPH, RN, CCRN, CEN, TCRN, NEA-BC, Director of Trauma Community Outreach & BioTel EMS at Parkland Health. “Not only do you have to be concerned about drivers who might be impaired or distracted, you also need to be concerned about the weather.”

Since the weather in the Metroplex can quickly shift, monitoring road conditions is critical, especially if rain is in the forecast and temperatures dip below freezing. “It’s simple. If you’re going to be toasting in the new year don’t get behind the wheel,” Edwards said. “And if you are hosting a party, you will want to be sure your guests get home safely. One option might be to hire a driver for the evening to provide people a way to get home.”

But in some cases, having a car to get home in could be a problem.

New Year’s Day is the most active holiday for car thefts, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) 2020 data. While partygoers were ringing in the New Year or resting from their reveling, thieves were starting the New Year with a new ride – to the tune of 2,320 car thefts nationwide.

“Although new technology has made it difficult to steal cars by traditional methods such as hot-wiring, the best thing car owners can do is take common-sense precautions to protect their vehicle,” said Darlene Griffin, crime prevention coordinator with the Dallas County Hospital District Police Department. “It is the same precautions you should take every day regardless of whether the calendar says it is a holiday. Remember, crime does not take a holiday.”

Some tips offered by Griffin and the NICB include:

• Always lock your car.

• Invest in a car alarm and use it.

• Never leave the car unlocked and running while unattended (especially if you’re ‘warming it up’).

• Take a photo of your car’s registration on your smartphone and avoid leaving such documents or other personal information in the vehicle.

New Year’s Eve parties are also times when both guns and fireworks frequently make celebratory appearances. “That may seem obvious, but along with fireworks and champagne, shooting off guns or fireworks is a holiday tradition for some people,” Griffin said. “Every bullet fired into the air doesn’t mean someone is going to get hurt, but the potential exists.”

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80% of celebratory gunfire-related injuries are to the head, feet and shoulders. In addition to causing potential life-threatening injuries, stray bullets can lodge in roofs, causing damage that requires repair in most cases. Normally, the bullet will penetrate the roof surface through the roof deck, leaving a hole where water may run into the building and cause a leak.

“The combination of firearms and festivities can be a deadly combination,” Griffin said. “Not only do you risk injuring or potentially killing an innocent victim, but you could end up ruining the rest of your life, too. The bottom line is do not do it.”

One longstanding tradition is starting off the new year with a bang – literally. But, without proper precautions, you could end up with life-threatening injuries or worse, according to said Rebecca Coffey, PhD, CBRN, MSN, BSN, RN, Parkland’s Burn Program Manager.

On average, 230 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the Independence Day holiday, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). For New Year’s, that number historically spikes again. In 2020, an estimated 15,600 people were hospitalized with injuries related to fireworks – the highest number in the last 15 years, the CPSC reported. While fireworks are fun to enjoy, they also pose hazards to those using them or near them.

There are no safe fireworks, Coffey added. Even sparklers reach temperatures hot enough to melt glass and cause deep burns, especially to young children who might accidentally drop them on their feet or ignite their clothing.

“We want to encourage people to celebrate safely with confetti poppers or silly string so that they do not have to ring in the New Year with us in the burn center,” she said.

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